Saké Restaurant & Bar Brisbane

Conveniently located in the waterfront Eagle Street Pier dining precinct, Saké is definitely one of the hottest restaurants in Brisbane. Serving contemporary Japanese cuisine by sushi master Shaun Presland and gourmet guru Shinichi Maeda winning the coveted Chef’s Hat in the Queensland Good Food Guide awards.

“winning the coveted Chef’s Hat in the Queensland Good Food Guide awards”

Discovering Saké and its acclaimed Chef’s Hat I was more than enthusiastic to finally dine there.
Loudly greeted in Japanese by the chefs from the open kitchen and the beautiful boat lights of Eagle Street Pier shining in through the big glass windows, I could not wait to get my hands on the menu.

I was especially enchanted by the chic designer setting and deluxe but relaxed atmosphere. The layout has been cleverly designed to cater for those eating on their own, couples and bigger groups. It impressed me that a restaurant of this caliber had thoughtfully accommodated lone diners, which is rare for this type of dining experience.

Service was very attentive and friendly, the staff are definitely very well informed about menu choices and their drink menu is not to be brushed aside either. The menu design was a little disappointing, tattered and folded paper doesn’t really suit the overall feel of quality about this place.
After pondering over the mouthwatering choices for what seemed like an eternity, as I could not make my mind up, I finally succumbed to the call of the Tuna Tasting Plate (AUD 30,-) as a starter and Chef Shinichi’s Selection, a 7 course culinary degustation (AUD 115,-) as my main meal and a small carafe of Kozaemon Sake (AUD 27,-) to start off.

“succumbed to the call of the Tuna Tasting Plate

The waitress was honest enough to mention that I wouldn’t need the appetizer but I told her I couldn’t battle my curiosity and desire for the tuna.

I was told to start from the left side and work my way through the variety of fresh textures up to the sake shots at the end. The tuna was sublimely fresh and I loved how the textures could be so different in each piece. Don’t be fooled, it is sugar rimmed on the sake glass, not salt! My favorite out of the three was hands down the tuna tacos at the end as the crispy texture of the taco was washed down beautifully with the sake. Very clever!

“Tuna tasting plate for 2” –tuna & avocado sushi rolls, tuna tataki salad with white dressing & tuna tacos, served with matched ‘sake shots

Being a natural oyster lover, I’m usually skeptical of oysters with additional ingredients or unorthodox cooking methods. Skeptically lifting the shot which contained an oyster, some microscopically diced concoction of spring onions and radish mixed with salty elements of dashi jelly and tiny balls of fish roe. I was pleasantly surprised of how delicious the savory combination was. The saltiness of the oyster and the jagged texture of the fish roe was absolutely divine, it was if I  was eating a liquid seafood salad with little pallet explosions left right and center.

“little pallet explosions left right and center”

The duo of pork nikogori with plum sauce was very gentle on the tastebuds, the plum sauce wasn’t overbearingly sweet and was a perfect finish and tribute to the oyster shot.

Degustation Plate #1
“Oyster shot & pork nikogori” –shot of rock oyster & a bonito dashi jelly & golden flying fish roe, pork nikogori with plum sauce

As far as presentation goes, this is not what I expected. Looking at the picture, you will notice that as delicious and fresh looking as it is, there is a distinct lack of organization and decor when compared to the other dishes. The picture is pretty much self explanatory but I was quite disappointed when it arrived at my table as my first impression was for it to be like any other sashimi platter that I could find elsewhere.
I quickly swallowed my thoughts as it became immediately obvious that this dish did its talking in taste. The fish was one of the freshest I had ever put to my lips and not failing to mention that the cuts were generous but not overwhelming. The quality of wasabi was potent but smooth. Without good wasabi any sashimi wont taste the same.

Degustation Plate #2 
“Sashimi selection” -freshest sashimi, served with wasabi & soy  
Personally I’ve never been a fan of tempura as it’s usually over-fried or tastes like poorly fried tofu or fish. Once again I was genuinely taken back by how fresh and delicious this assorted Japanese mushroom tempura tasted. This dish consisted of three different types of mushroom, Enoki, Shitaki and Shimeiji. Each bite was different, with the enoki it was a pleasant chewiness and with the shitaki and shimeiji the mushroom heads were thicker and softer to the core. The green maccha salt gave it a perfect touch of green tea for a delicate infusion.

“touch of green tea for a delicate infusion”

I especially enjoyed the Spanner crab on top of the egg concoction very much as well.
The Chef was extremely clever in planning this dish, giving food the complete opposite textures on one plate. Crunchy tempura + silky smooth egg custard = Genius.
Degustation Plate #3
“Spanner crab tamago tofu” delicate savory egg custard with spanner crab,Japanese mushroom tempura & maccha salt
This had to be my favorite dish out of the entire degustation menu.  I cannot begin to explain how succulent and juicy the lightly fried panko lamb was. (Panko = variety of flaky bread crumbs)
Usually, you’d expect a very breaded and heavy exterior for katsu related dishes, but this one was light and trim.
Combining a mixture of lamb, dehydrated lotus and a dip of Japanese mayonnaise in one mouthful made my night complete. The Jerusalem artichoke could fool many as resembling a fig fruit and even tasted similar, what a combo of delightful flavors!
The plate it was served on, what strangely reminded me of an oyster shell, which made it even more of a esculent experience!

“esculent experience”

(Note: non-gluten free)
Degustation Plate #4 
“Lamb katsu” –panko-fried lamb, Jerusalem artichoke & baby carrot 
Yes, it is as wonderful as it looks. Simple but sensational, the semi seared wagyu sirloin cuts were both satiny and fleshy with a majestic crunch from the shishito peppers. The drizzled liquid blend of white miso and dried fig gave my taste buds an impeccable sensation.
Degustation Plate #5
“Wagyu tataki” –seared shar wagyu sirloin with sauteed shishito- peppers, white miso & dried fig sauce

Presentation wise, this dish beat the rest. It looked as if the eel was hiding in its little underwater cave! Unfortunately at this point I was already stuffed beyond belief but of course, continued eating as I could not resist. I enjoyed the fact that the fresh NSW (New South Wales) eel was done up in two different ways, one steamed and the other grilled on rice and came with a collection of sansho pepper, wasabi & grated daikon (white radish) for dipping. For looking this glorious, it was subtle in regards to actual flavor.

Degustation Plate #6
“NSW wild fresh water eel” steamed & grilled eel, soy reduction, Japanese sansho pepper, wasabi & grated daikon
Watermelon is said to be good for fighting fatigue and is full of refreshing juices. Maybe the Chef had considerations for his guests in mind when he conjured up this very visually appealing dish. My guess is the Chef knows how tired and full, almost falling into food coma so this light refreshing desert is a comforting sight.
The watermelon had been used in five different ways – sorbet, jelly, marshmallow and consomme. My preferred choice of the five would have to be the good ole’ sorbet. A nice cold finish to a long but brilliant degustation.
What I found most interesting of the give was the watermelon marshmallow cube. I never had anything like it, what differs it to a normal marshmallow is that it is less chewy and more moist, almost like a mini sponge cake. The consomme was wonderful as well, it was a bit hard to stomach anymore liquid at this point. Lets just say the waitress had my interests in mind when she recommended me not to order the appetizer ;).
Degustation (dessert) Plate #7
“Suika watermelon textured five ways” – sorbet, mousse, jelly, marshmallow & consomme 

I will be returning to try out dishes like the pan seared NZ Ora King salmon with corn puree or the simple wagyu dumplings, too many choices to choose from!
Besides the sake I mentioned earlier, I also had the opportunity to try the following cocktails:

Red-eyed Geisha (AUD 20,-) – Hennesy VS Cognac, Grand Marnier, fresh lemon, hibiscus & kaffir lime syrup.

Godzilla (AUD 22,-) – Equal amounts of Green Fairy Absinthe & lychee liqueur, a twist of lime & fresh shiso leaves. 
Classic cocktails are also available on request, but with so many funky choices, why not go for their specialties?
Saké Restaurant & Bar

Tel +61 (7) 3015 0557
Level 1, 45 Eagle Street, Eagle Street Pier Brisbane QLD 4000

(Also available in Sydney & Melbourne. Reviews are to come!)

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